Friday, March 9, 2018 at 8:46 AM

Trump & Kim Agree to Hook Up Reality-TV Style

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

President Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for talks by the end of May, an extraordinary development following months of heightened nuclear tension during which the two leaders exchanged frequent military threats and insults.

(Washington Post, March 8, 2018)

This had everyone in Washington expressing shock and consternation yesterday; not least because every one of Trump’s top advisers was blindsided by it. Not to mention the spectacle of the cowered South Koreans Kim dispatched to Washington being the ones who announced this slapdash meeting – doing so, as they did, on Trump’s behalf in the dark of night on the grounds of the White House.

To be fair, Washington was still reeling from his declared intent to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum – the adverse consequences for the US economy, national security, and international trade be damned. Not to mention that his advisers were still trying to spin him out of legal jeopardy for paying off porn star Stormy Daniels to stay silent about their adulterous affair.

But, instead of shock and consternation, everyone should have been expressing contempt and outrage. After all, it’s arguable that Trump is just using a summit meeting with Kim as a wag-the-dog distraction from all of the political storm clouds gathering over his presidency.

Yet it seems I am the only one who thinks this latest distraction is vintage Trump. In fact, nothing has defined his presidency quite like Trump agreeing in one meeting to what the person speaking to him says – even when doing so contradicts what he agreed to in a meeting the day before.

He displayed this in glaring fashion just six weeks ago. That’s when he had everyone in Washington either bemoaning or ridiculing the way he flip-flopped on his agreement to sign whatever bipartisan deal senators delivered on DACA (a deal to provide legal status for illegal immigrants, a.k.a. Dreamers, whose parents brought them into the United States as young children). This led Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to vent this famous lament:

Trump understood that immigration reform had to be done with compassion, but something changed in a short period of time [between 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock on Thursday]. I don’t know where that guy went, I want him back.

(TIME, January 16, 2018)

This is why the real story is not Trump’s manic, unpredictable, and irresponsible behavior. It’s the Snapchat-like way everyone in Washington continually reacts with shock and consternation to that behavior, and then immediately forgets it.

Indeed, only selective amnesia explains anyone in Washington believing this meeting will amount to anything more than a photo op. Mind you, this is probably all Trump wants; you know, like an Instagram thot hoping her latest post will attract millions of “Likes.” (Okay, perhaps it’s more like the photo op he orchestrated to show him brokering a deal on DACA, only to have it fizzle to nothing … like just another viral story.)

As for Kim, even more predictable than Trump flip-flopping on major issues at the drop of a hat is North Korean leaders making promises they never keep. Trust me, Kim will never give up his nuclear weapons.

But, even if he agrees to do so, nothing indicates how useless that agreement would be quite like North Korea’s falling out with South Korea over their unified Olympic flag. Reports are that North Korea refused to honor its agreement with South Korea to march in today’s Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Paralympics under the same unified flag they marched under for the regular Olympics just weeks ago.

Unfortunately, like Putin of Russia, Xi of China, and practically every other world leader, Kim knows he only has to flatter Trump to get him to fold like a cheap suit. Trump has shown time and again that, far from being a master of The Art of the Deal, he’s just a sucker for flattery.

And nothing would flatter Trump more than a photo op showing him meeting with Kim ostensibly to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Hell, Trump would pat himself on the back just for being the first US president to meet any North Korean leader and the first world leader to meet Kim.

Never mind that this is rather like patting yourself on the back for being the first to fall for an obvious ruse hook, line, and sinker.#Idiot!

Incidentally, one of the reasons Obama never met with Kim is that Republicans accused him of treasonous naiveté for even expressing a willingness to do so – if Kim met his preconditions. Of course, the hypocrisy of Republicans praising things they once denounced has become a hallmark of Trump’s presidency. Exhibit A: praising Trump’s impulsive and doomed framework to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons after denouncing Obama’s comprehensive and shrewd framework to get Iran to not develop them in the first place.

Meanwhile, it is self-evident that Trump couldn’t care less about the preparations necessary for this meeting. But Kim could be forgiven for thinking Trump also couldn’t care less about the results. Kim need only refer to Graham’s lament regarding DACA for (mis)guidance.

For his part, Kim would like nothing more than to show his people that he, not Trump, is the most powerful man in the world. And he clearly believes the optics of him summoning Trump to a summit meeting would do the trick – no matter where it takes place. (Even I would be shocked if Trump’s handlers allow him to travel to the Korean Peninsula – effectively meeting Kim not just on his terms but on his turf to boot.)

But, apropos of (mis)guidance, Kim is in for a rude awakening if he thinks just stroking Trump’s ego will induce the United States to lift sanctions. Because Trump is not the dictator he pretends to be — as Putin is now realizing to his chagrin. America’s system of checks and balances (in this case Congress and the Press) will constrain Trump’s well-documented impulse to betray his country for a historic photo op, idle flattery, or the proverbial thirty pieces of silver.

For example, but for Congress, he would have lifted sanctions on Russia long ago. This, despite clear and convincing evidence that Russia was (and is) still launching cyberattacks to undermine democratic institutions in the United States and throughout Europe.

Therefore, no matter what Trump says, Kim will have to ape Gaddafi (i.e., give up his nukes) before North Korea gets any relief. The Catch-22, of course, is that, if Kim does, he’s bound to end up like Gaddafi, namely dead. Which is why, like so much with Trump, this proposed summit meeting will turn out to be much ado about nothing.

Ultimately, though, there’s this prevailing fact:

Such antic mix of arrogance, ignorance, and fickleness has America’s European allies reeling with consternation, frustration, and dismay. But it also has leaders of every other country lining up to play Trump for a chump, especially given that all it takes is a little stroking of his infantile ego to do so.

(“North Korea’s Nukes Upstage America’s Fireworks…Again,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 5, 2017)

Xi of China was first in line. Then came Netanyahu of Israel, et al. Kim of North Korea is just falling in line.

Related commentaries:
Trump & Kim
North Korea nukes

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